The corruption trial of two Baltimore police officers began this morning, and the testimony revealed paints a deeply disturbing portrait of a police task force which entirely went “rogue” and regularly abused their power for their own personal gain and to funnel African-Americans into the carceral machine.
“The Gun Trace Task Force wasn’t a unit that went rogue. It was a unit of officers who had already gone rogue,” announced Assistant US Attorney Leo Wise at the beginning of the trial, attempting to downplay the racial element in their behavior. “They were, simply put, both cops and robbers at the same time.”
Eight members of the Gun Trace Task Force have been indicted for corruption and four are testifying against their fellow officers.
But a look at the testimony shows that’s not the entire story. According to the testimony of Officer Ward, the members of the Gun Trace Task Force would “keep BB guns on hand in case they hit someone or got into a shootout and needed to plant it on someone.”
They would rustle up useless arrests by “profiling ‘dope boy cars’ such as Honda Accords, Acuras, Honda Odysseys – for car stops and would falsely claim he saw people not wearing seatbelts or their windows were too darkly tinted” and even “drive fast at a larger group of people, slam brakes and pop their doors to see who ran, then detain and search them.”
Officer Ward recounts one appalling story of how Officer Jenkins had listened in on the jailhouse phone calls of a man who the force had stolen $100,000 from.
Realizing that the man knew the police had stolen the money and discovering that his wife was handling things from the outside, Jenkins had one of his fellow cops write up a fake letter from another woman saying she was pregnant and delivered it to the man’s wife in order to turn her against him.
This is just from the first of four officers who will testify.
This is just the first of four officers who will testify during this trial, and he hasnt even been cross-examined yet
— Justin Fenton (@justin_fenton) January 23, 2018
How many more summary executions and outrageous acts of criminality are we going to tolerate before the American people demand some kind of substantial reform of American law enforcement agencies?
Policing in America has grown far beyond simply serving the community, to the point where agencies appear to operate more like gangs or occupying armies than the protectors of their communities, enforcing white supremacy and acting as the enablers of America’s twisted for-profit gulag archipelago.
The brazen disregard for the laws they are supposed to be enforcing and the arrogance with which the Gun Trace Task Force conducted their illegal activities tells you everything you need to know about policing in America these days.
h/t to Justin Fenton @ the Baltimore Sun for his excellent reporting